Student Distraction and Teaching
I think dealing with distraction has been with humans for many centuries. It isn't something we have to bash up our youth with. They are not a diminished generation. I like Elvis even though he destroyed my parent's minds
How do we measure diminished concentration? Many people have an unintentional injury in the pre-Google world. In America (land of Google) from 2000 to 2009 unintentional death rates declined by 29%. There is enough research that demonstrates a rise in IQ occurred alongside the rise of the internet. (Google Scholar search: Internet and IQ increase).
I believe that Learning is actually a distraction (disruptive and distractive).
I have a keen interest in how mindsets which focus on narrow points disconnects us with what is actually happening in what is a rich multi-faceted complex reality. Knowing actually positions the person. It can lessen adaptability and change.
An open learning mindset distracts us from fixed knowing. Education is in the learning business, not the knowing business. Education is a distraction. In regards to open-mindsets and fixed mindsets, I refer to psychologist Carol Dweck.
What occurs in our fabricated personal paradigm is often a disillusioned place that we think we know until something or somebody (teacher, mentor, peer) helps us transform towards a new sense of understanding. Learning is the distraction we need to assist us from the position based fixed mind of knowing. Sometimes allowing yourself to be distracted from what you know is difficult.
Check out how easily these pre-Google educated people are so easily distracted.
I have not read any research that specifically states that learning has diminished because of students' diminished capacity to think and learn. I do not believe that students' have any less attention span than my generation or my parents' generation. Students are staying longer at school, unintentional accidents have declined and research points to an increase in IQ has occurred whilst the internet reaches mass saturation. The ability to read and understand, to think deeply and philosophically, and to develop intellectually has not diminished.
21st Century learning requires different teaching methodologies and tools than what was generally employed in the 20th century. OECD links the growth of a nation's economy with learning, technology, and innovation. Singapore is now top of the OECD PISA ranks. They employ a program 'Teach Less Learn More' and employ high levels of connected technology. Singapore has changed significantly since my youth. Future secondary school students need to have the skills to work in the Global Digital Economy: Digital Economy Skills (read more):
It is possible that if learning is based on consuming content, listening, observing, note-taking, and regurgitation (20th Century Industrial technology methods) distraction can increase. However, if learning which actively engaging students with their learning through 21st Century networks and social technology, learning effectiveness can increase.
Anne Matthew paper on Managing distraction in 21st-century learning environments, Nuts and Bolts' offers some insights into learning, inter-connectivity, rapid multitasking, and attention switching:
The challenges of maintaining attention and managing distraction are not new barriers to learning; the novelty in 21st-century learning environments is the plethora of technological distractions beyond the control of the teacher. The extent to which distraction impacts upon the learning experience may well be dependent upon a number of factors, including learning and teaching approaches and individual learning preferences. Where the learning experience hinges upon student attention through listening, observing, or note-taking, the impact of the distraction indicates a potential failure in pedagogy in the new learning environment. The challenge presented is how best to engage learners effectively. The answer may lie at the intersection of attention economics and accepted principles of effective learning and teaching practices directed at maximizing student engagement in active learning (Matthew, 2012). In information-rich, highly connected learning environments, the most effective learning, and teaching practices will be those that deploy and structure attention to the greatest effect by actively engaging students with their learning. It is suggested that in seeking the most appropriate pedagogy, the learner’s role in actively shaping their own learning experience should be supported and such support should extend to use of ‘technologies of their own choice where appropriate’ (JISC, 2009, p. 51)